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Match Report: Northampton Town 1 Walsall 1 (Pens: 2-4)
Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's EFL Trophy - Southern Group D clash between the Saddlers and Cobblers.
After their promising two-all draw with promotion-chasing Exeter City at the weekend, the Saddlers turned their attention to Sixfields, where they faced Northampton Town in the second of their three EFL Trophy group games.

After opening their Trophy campaign with a narrow win over Brighton's Under 23's, Walsall were hoping to give themselves something to build upon as they took on the Cobblers earlier this evening.
 
Walsall got the action underway, and they began the game well, scoring just four minutes into the contest. Brendan Kiernan playing in Emmanuel Osadebe who fired a low effort past Northampton Town goalkeeper, Jonathon Maxted. A perfect start for the travelling side.

The home side felt they should have been awarded a penalty eight minutes in, as Dylan Connolly went down inside the area under a challenge from Alfie Bates, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

The Saddlers were quick to work the ball back up to the other end, where Tyrese Shade looked to play in George Miller, whose effort on goal was easily saved by Maxted.

With just ten minutes on the clock, Walsall captain, Manny Monthe became the first player to see the yellow card brandished their way, as he received a caution for a foul on Kion Etete.

Walsall continued to look the brighter of the two teams as the game continued, seeing much of the ball and finding themselves a little unlucky not to double their advantage in the fourteenth minute, as a lovely ball into the box from Shade evaded everyone, allowing Town to clear.

The early pace slowed a little as the teams settled into the contest, though nineteen minutes in, Zak Mills became the second player to see yellow for a foul on Connolly, with the resulting free-kick being fired narrowly over the crossbar by Mitchell Pinnock.

The game became more of an end-to-end encounter as it continued, with both teams creating opportunities to score in the minutes which followed; Northampton seeing Pinnock fire over in the twenty-sixth minute, before Shade saw an effort blocked at the other end, after some good work from Kiernan played him in.

As we reached the half hour mark, the Saddlers were again presented with the chance to extend their lead, as some good play from Shade allowed Kiernan a shot on goal, but his effort sailed wide of the upright without troubling the man between the sticks.

The home side continued to grow into the game as time wore on, with Etete putting on an impressive display in the thirty-second minute to beat his man before crossing into the box, with the clearance falling to Jordan Flores who saw his shot blocked.

With thirty-five minutes played, Alfie Bates became the third Saddler to be shown the yellow card, as he received a caution for a foul on Connolly.

Walsall continued to seek a second goal late into the half, with Sam Perry firing a long-range effort narrowly over the crossbar in the thirty-seventh minute.

At the other end, two minutes later, the hosts won a free-kick, from which Pinnock was able to draw a save from Walsall shot-stopper, Jack Rose.

Moments before the teams headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments, Etete attempted to level the scores with a header, but the ball cleared the bar and after one additional minute was played, the referee called for half-time with Walsall leading by one-goal-to-nil at the break.

HT
NTFC
1-1
WFC
 
The teams returned unchanged following the interval, and Northampton got the second-half underway. The home team began the half brightly, and could have levelled the scores just four minutes in, as Connolly and Pinnock combined to play in Etete, but his goal-ward effort was easily saved by Rose.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as the two sides settled back into the contest. Both teams enjoying time on the ball, whilst finding themselves unable to create anything of note to test their oppositions defences.

As we reached the hour mark, the Saddlers chose to make their first change of the evening, with George Miller making way for Kieran Phillips, moments after the former saw an effort sail wide.

Within seconds of his introduction into the game, Phillips forced a save from the Northampton shot-stopper.

Sixty-three minutes into the contest, Fraser Horsfall joined those already on a caution, as he picked up a yellow card.

A second Walsall substitution followed one minute later, as Alfie Bates made way for Jack Earing.

The hosts went close to levelling the scores in the sixty-fifth minute, with Connolly seeing an effort blocked behind, before Rose saved the resulting corner.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Northampton chose to make all three of their available substitutions; Scott Pollock, Fraser Horsfall and Nicke Kabamba making way as Shaun McWilliams, Max Dyche and Benny Ashley-Seal joined the fray.

The Cobblers were awarded a penalty in the seventy-first minute, as Etete was tripped inside the box by Monthe. Connolly stepped forth to take the spot-kick and duly converted to level the scores.

Seventy-three minutes in, Jordan Flores became the fifth recipient of a yellow card, as he received a caution for a foul on Perry.

The Saddlers ought to have restored their earlier advantage fifteen minutes from time, but after being played through one-on-one by Osadebe, Shade was unable to find the net with an effort from a tight angle.

With seventy-six minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the evening; Sam Perry being replaced by Joss Labadie for the run-in.

Eighty-two minutes in, both Rollin Menayese and Ben Ashley-Seal were added to the referee's notebook as they got into a bit of bother after the Walsall man tripped the Cobbler.

The game once again settled, with both sides struggling to create much to trouble the other as the wind picked up.

Two minutes from time, an eighth addition was added to the referee's notebook, as Shaun McWilliams joined those already named for a foul on Osadebe.

Moments before the officials indicated that four additional minutes would be played, Town were presented with a chance to snatch the victory, as Ashley-Seal and Connolly combined to play in Etete, whose effort from close range was well saved by the legs of Rose.

There was little further action of note, with full-time being called with the scores still tied, meaning we would head into a penalty shoot-out.

Ultimately, Walsall went on to take the bonus point, with goals from Earing, Shade, Labadie and Phillips enough to cancel out those from Connolly and Flores as both Pinnock and Etete failed to convert their spot-kicks.

FT
NTFC
1-1
WFC
Connolly [p] (72')
Osadebe (4')
REFEREE
Charles Breakspear
ATT / AT
- Sixfields
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